“I think I’m headed to Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. Not sure how far that is for you if you want to link up. Going to climb it Saturday am. State high point. Weather is 60 and sunny with little wind. Bam! Safe avy conditions too.”
That was the message I got from my friend Twinkle a few weekends ago. He’s all about the mountains and getting out as much as possible. He’s way fun to hike with too. I met him and his wife, Grace, last year to climb Lackawanna. They’re one of those couples that gives ya hope, ya know? They just seem like they are really supportive of each other. Anyway……..
It was a Friday, and I drove down to Taos to meet up with Twinkle and his friend Sarah. I got down there a few hours before they did, mostly because I wanted to beat the snow that was supposed to fall over Slum. I stopped in at a very interesting clothing store, the owner was quite unique and talkative…I could probably write a whole story about her…but I am out of practice and it will have to wait for another day.
After my brief conversational imprisonment at the clothing store, I checked into the hostel that Twinkle and Sarah had reserved for us, and then I waited for them to arrive. It was sometime around sunset when they showed up. We went for a short walk through town, played some Dr. Seuss themed matching game, and then went to bed.
The next morning we loaded up our packs and gear and headed toward Wheeler. When we arrived at the empty parking lot, we were immediately greeted by a chill in the air and then quickly joined by two other peak baggers. They had loud techno type music blaring. Twinkle, Sarah, and I couldn’t help but to bust a couple moves to the parking lot tunes before we got going.
Sarah and Twinkle are both good skiers and skinned the entire way below treeline. I brought snow shoes, but I didn’t need them. I decided to drop them at the same time that Twinkle and Sarah decided to strap their skis on their packs.
We made our way slowly up to the summit. I felt bad because all I had to carry was my pack, while Twinkle and Sarah carried their skis. But I knew their descent was going to be a lot more fun than mine, so, eventually it would all even out. Meanwhile, the two fellas from the parking lot nipped at our heels and followed in our footsteps. We shouted introductions and exchanged names somewhere along the way.
Step-by-step we inched ourselves to the summit of Wheeler, and then hung out up high in the sunny quiet stillness for a bit. I found a giant blow pop in my pack and it turned my teeth and tongue blue. Twinkle and Sarah thought it was funny, so we all took a picture with our tongues sticking out. I’m a perpetual mess.
After a few laughs and some conversational exchange with our parking lot friends, we were downward bound. I slid on my butt, used my ice axe as an oar, and paddled through the snow. Twinkle and Sarah made pretty lines on their skis, down Wheeler and through the trees back to the car.
We were all hungry and thirsty and brain dead by the time we had everything loaded back into the car, so we decided to go get pizza, and our parking lot buddies joined. After satiating our cravings we went and saw the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. From far away, just driving along the road, it didn’t look like much. But when we all walked on it and looked over the edge, down to the river…we all grasped a certain appreciation for where we were standing.
Not long after our sight seeing detour, Sarah and Twinkle headed home and we split ways. I was glad they invited me and we had a fun weekend adventure. Normally, I’m pretty much alone, so, it was a nice change of pace to have some friends to goof off with in the mountains.
I haven’t written much for quite a while. I feel like I’m rusty and I may only have half a brain. But ya gotta start somewhere right!? Don’t know what any of this writing is really for anyway, except…maybe it’s just a way for me to remember some great days way up high in the mountains! 🙂